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Dish in Form of Seashell

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor

Ancient Egyptian artists produced vessels in both glass and faience, producing different effects with each material.

The Egyptians began manufacturing glass vessels during the Eighteenth Dynasty reign of Thutmose III (circa 1479–1425 B.C.E.). Early examples, valued for their rarity and beauty, were luxury items used to store precious oils and perfumes. Craftsmen produced striking effects by adding threads of colored glass to a vessel’s surface while it was still hot and then dragging a pointed object across the surface to produce festooned patterns. The artist who made the fish flask shown here indicated the animal’s scales by pressing blue powdered glass down into the interior.

Early scholars often incorrectly characterized faience as simply an inexpensive substitute for glass, but recent research suggests that the Egyptians favored the material because of its attractive color and its association with water, the source of creation. A characteristic type of Eighteenth Dynasty faience vessel is the shallow bowl. Early in the dynasty, artists painted the interiors of these bowls with marsh scenes including fish and water plants; later painters introduced human figures.
  • Reportedly From: Saqqara, Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1390-1292 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 18
    PERIOD New Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 7/8 x 2 5/8 x 4 5/8 in. (2.2 x 6.6 x 11.7 cm)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Speckled blue, brown and white glass dish in the shape of a long un-ribbed sea shell. The interior of the dish has more white and brown areas than does the exterior. All colors are opaque. Condition: Long crack through dish at one end.
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